I must admit . . . I’ve been a pretty sorry grocery shopper lately. Between Christmas planning, Christmas having, and then getting back to school this week, I’ve been avoiding the grocery store like the plague! Why do people want to eat when I’m busy? 😉 They probably expect to eat around your house, too. So, in an effort to simplify my own life, I’ve pulled up this post from the archives so I could remind myself what was on my plan, tweak it a bit, and check it against my grocery list. Thought someone else might appreciate the help, too! Here you go, and happy Saturday!
One stressor for most moms is figuring out what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many menus that purport to “help” actually DON’T because they’re not designed for families and your kids don’t want to eat scallop kebobs or Thai turkey burgers or whatever great thing some gourmet grownup dreamed up! Take some time today to think through the things your family enjoys eating. You know what’s next . . .Write them down! I’ve listed here my own weekly breakfast and lunch menus, as well as my list of 30-some potential dinners! I’ve put these into a calendar form that I can use month after month–just post it on the side of the fridge.
Another great tip is to buy hamburger meat in bulk. Make a couple of meatloaves, some meatballs, and then just brown some of it, put them in plastic freezer bags, and toss them in the freezer! Do the same with boneless chicken breasts or even whole chickens, if you want to save money–throw them in a pot of water and cook them til the meat falls off the bones; then bag the meat pieces up in meal-sized portions and put them in the freezer too. If you want really *tasty* chicken, though, drizzle the cut-up whole chicken or chicken breast with some olive oil, throw some crushed garlic on it and add a bit of salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, or whatever sounds good, and then roast the chicken instead. Let it cool, dice it up, put it in a few zip bags, and voila . . . instant chicken for chicken salad, chicken casseroles, etc etc! A BIG time and sanity saver on homeschool days!
Now, time to think about what’s for dinner.
Seriously, this seems to be quite a stressful thing for so
many moms. I have one son who says “What’s for
____________” the second we finish whatever meal we
happen to be eating at the time! It’s nice to be able to just
direct him to the refrigerator to take a look and read it for
himself! Planning out weekly menus is a great way to save.
You spend less time at the grocery store and therefore less
money! But it’s even better in my view to have a plan for the
whole month, every month! Here’s how . . .make a list of
everything you even occasionally make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go
through your recipe books or cards or whatever you have,
and write them down. Then fill out a month-style form for
the dinners. Try to mix it up so that
beef/chicken/fish/turkey/pasta meals are spread throughout the
month. You’ll be surprised at how many things you *do*
know how to cook, I’ll bet! Writing it all out helps you get out of the rut!
Often when you try to use someone else’s menus for your
family, you find things on them that you know your kids are
*not* going to eat. I’ll go ahead and show you my family’s
list, and maybe it’ll spark some ideas. If you want, you’re
more than welcome to copy it!
Sun. Eggs, bacon, biscuits/rolls
Fri. French Toast
Sat. Pancakes and sausage
Sun. Out to eat or big dinner prepared the night before
Mon. Mac n’cheese w/ cucumbers and ranch dressing
Tues. Turkey Sandwiches w/ chips
Wed. Nuggets w/ fruit cocktail
Thurs. PBJ’s w/carrot sticks
Fri. Fish sticks w/ corn *update* tuna melts on English muffins
Sat. Grilled cheese w/tomato soup
Now, of course any of these are interchangeable. I often will
make chicken or egg salad sandwiches rather than the
turkey/pbjs; and if there’s a cool or rainy day during the
week, that’s usually when I’ll serve grilled cheese!
Here’s the big list . . .
Roast chicken/stuffing/green beans
Ham & pineapple/rice/peas
Orange chicken/mashed potatoes/green beans in mushroom soup
Pork tenderloin/carrots/mashed potatoes
Spaghetti with meatballs/salad
Salmon with apricot jam/saffron rice/peas
Chicken parmesan/green beans
Pita bread pizza/salad
Sweet n’sour meatballs/rice/broccoli
Chicken fettucine alfredo/salad
Chicken and dumplings
English muffin pizza/carrots
Roast beef/mashed potatoes/brown sugar glazed carrots
Chicken enchiladas/cheesy salsa rice
Ham n’potato casserole/broccoli/
Steak-pepper-mushroom-onion kebobs/roasted potatoes
Barbecue ribs/wild rice/green beans
Baked mac n’cheese/sliced tomatoes
Sweet n’ sour chicken/fried rice
Barbecue meatballs on sub rolls/salad
Chicken pot pie
Barbecue chicken on buns
Chicken noodle casserole (usually Angel Chicken)
Not bad, hmmm? So you could just go through this list and
fill out the squares on a blank calendar (I just drew mine on
computer paper with a ruler!) and stick it to the side of your
fridge. The point isn’t to follow it exactly, because some
night you might want something that’s “scheduled” for two
nights from now–the point is, you’ve got a choice and aren’t
standing there staring into your open fridge with a glazed
look in your eyes! The ingredients will be in your fridge
because YOU HAVE A PLAN!
If you *really* want to get ahead of the game, go through the
calendar you’ve made and make two grocery lists: One for
weeks 1 and 2’s menus (don’t forget breakfast and lunch!),
and then one for weeks 3 and 4. Just interchange them
when you go to the grocery store. Best of all, put them into
your planner so you’ve always got them with you and can’t
leave your list home, as I so often do! Make sure you
remember lots of fresh fruit on your list, and maybe some
pudding, cheese sticks, granola bars and other great things
for snacking on. No more wondering what’s for dinner!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!